Do you ever feel like your study and message preparation is just not digging deep enough? While unpacking your sermon do you find it challenging to maintain the interest and intrigue of your congregation? Perhaps they already know what you’re going to say before you’ve said it.
In the ‘Faith-filled Preaching’ unit of the soon to be launched Reach & Influence course, Scott “Sanga” Samways outlines that a goal of every preacher should be to dig deep in their study of the Word of God and unpack those truths in a captivating way.
Sanga goes on to describe that in the 19th century, Paul Broca, a French anthropologist discovered an area of the human brain within the frontal lobe that looks for rhythms, patterns and sequences. Named after himself, the “Broca” part of your brain is actually trying to discover the conclusion of a message before the sermon’s barely started.
That’s why perhaps when you’re watching a movie you find that you’ve already figured out the ending a third of the way in. While a remarkable feature of the brain, it unfortunately means that your Broca switches off and stops learning once its thinks it knows the ending.
What does this mean for preachers? Well we need to recognise that whenever we get up to speak, we’re facing a room full of Brocas that are trying to get to the end, revealing the point of your message faster than you’re speaking.
Therefore as preachers, what we want to do is sneak up on their Broca, by unlocking deeper and deeper truths from the Word gradually throughout our messages.
Here’s a model of how to do just that, inspired by the Jewish Rabbi’s.
We read in Genesis 3:8 (NIV) – “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…”
That word garden in the Hebrew is “pardes”, and Rabbi’s used this word as an acronym that defined the four levels of understanding within every story in Scripture.
So as the Rabbi’s sought to dig deeper into the meaning of the Scripture they would do so through the lens of pardes (or P-R-D-S). Here they are:
Surface level – this is the literal, face-value meaning of the story.
Symbolic level – this is the hinted at or implied meaning.
Similarity level – this is the deeper meaning and how it connects with other Biblical stories.
Secret level – this is hidden meaning that comes from Divine revelation.
Are you taking your listeners through the four levels of understanding?
Rabbi’s would say that studying the Word of God was like walking with God in His garden paradise. Have ever felt like that? Does your congregation ever feel like that?
As preachers we have that opportunity to take our listeners there too. By following this process in our study and delivery, we not only take people on a journey of digging deeper, but we keep people engaged right to the end of our messages; appreciating the garden of God’s Word!
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